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Not-so-good old days
It takes people awhile to catch on to the dangers, as well as the blessing, of advances in technology. One hundred years ago, electricity was high-tech and it took one former Oxford Hills dweller by surprise.
Norway Advertiser, October 18, 1912:
Afflicted by a live wire
It was a great shock to Mrs. Ruth Chandler when the sad tidings came that her brother, Eastman McAlister of Barton, Ohio, had been instantly killed by a live wire striking him around the body. He was burned in a terrible manner, and his son, in trying to remove the wire burned his hands so badly that they have been useless since the accident. Mr. McAlister was the son of Amos and Almeda Lord McAlister of North Stoneham, and has been in the West for over 80 years. He leaves a wife, six children and several brothers and sisters. He was a sad ending to a useful life.
Other news that week was a rather run-of-the-mill advisory tale from the Norway Advertiser, October 18, 1912:
Skipped with the Money
Last week a burglar secured board at Frank Ring's under false pretenses, saying that he was engaged in killing brown tail moths and his partner was coming later with a team, and mentioned a well-known person, who had recommended Mrs. Ring to them for a barding place. Mrs. Ring and her son Henry occupied rooms on the second floor. Mr. Ring was away at the time, and in the night she heard an unusual noise down stairs and in the morning her boarder was gone with what money he could find which was a little over $8, which was in Henry's bank. It was thought at first that more was taken and some notes but these have been found. It isn't safe to trust any one nowadays especially a stranger. It is said that these same burglars tried to get into Frank Reed's house the same night.
Some tragedies were as old as time and new as tomorrow.
From the Norway Advertiser, October 18, 1912:
A shooting affair occurred, Saturday afternoon, near Snow's Falls. Kalli Hittinen, 17 years old, was shot by his brother Edward, 12 years old, and died within a few minutes. The older boy finished his dinner earlier than the others and went out in front of the house, loaded a 22 rifle with "long" cartridges and sat it up against the house. He then went across the road about 60 feet and set up a small tin can for him and his brother to shoot at. At that time the younger brother came out and picked up the rifle and not knowing that his brother had loaded it aimed at the can and fired. The shot hit his brother on the left shoulder an inch to the right and two inches above the arm pit as the arm was extended at the side. He fell forward and was dead probably by the time help reached him. He was taken into the house and the physician called. He found the bullet lodged just under the skin in front and he easily took it out with a lance. The bullet was quite badly flattened, but the doctor did not think it struck any bones in its course.
There are seven children in the family and they live on the Charles Buck place just west of Snow's Falls. Coroner W. J. Wheeler was notified, but no inquest was deemed necessary.
There are times when reading old newspapers, though, when one comes upon an item that causes a reader to double-take. In 1912, the country was still agricultural at heart and most people probably passed over the following minor items with complete understanding. These days, however, our phraseology has changed.
From the Norway Advertiser, May 12, 1912:
Silas Stearns had the misfortune to lose one of his work horses.
Mrs. Annie Hazelton set a hen on 15 Barred Plymouth Rock eggs and had 15 chicks hatch out and they are all alive and smart.
It takes only a second to realize that the unfortunate Stearns didn't lose track of where his horse was. That might have been a disaster to a farmer who only had one. The story doesn't say if he had a spare.
The second item, though, immediately brought this reader the image that just won't easily go away, of a lady in period costume perched in the family's chicken coop.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.